Originally created 04/02/02

Duct tape designer sticks with hobby



INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - Joe Mauck doesn't mind getting into sticky situations.

It is his hobby.

When Joe needs something, duct tape will do.

The high school junior uses the product to create everything from wallets and rose corsages to suits and backpacks. His fascination with the adhesive began the summer before seventh grade.

"I was at camp and had just gotten a new pair of shoes," he said. "They got torn and some guy was like, 'Here, put duct tape on it,' and it fixed them. It looked good, and the shoes lasted a lot longer. It just kind of stuck."

His first duct tape creation was a wallet.

"I just started trying other stuff. I needed a new wallet, so I made one out of duct tape. I can make it however I want it, and when it falls apart, I can just make a new one."

Later, Joe moved on to flowers.

"I can do the roses in about 20 minutes. I use red duct tape for the flowers and green for the stems. The first time I made about six different types - a sunflower, a daisy-type and others I just made up. I started making flowers because I really liked this girl. I made her a bouquet. We went out for about three weeks."

Tailoring duct tape clothing is a more complex task.

"The hardest thing I ever made was a trench coat."

The garment required about six 20-yard rolls of silver tape. Next, Joe is going for a duct tape prom.

"I'm going to try to get a scholarship from Duck brand duct tape. I'll wear a duct tape tuxedo, and when I find a date I think I have to make her a duct tape dress. I'm going to go all out - right down to the minuscule details. The tuxedo will be nothing but duct tape. I'll get the ruffle thing going on, the collar, the buttons - everything. It could take a couple of months."

Joe is known as the duct tape specialist in his high school newspaper, The Signal. His how-to duct tape projects are regular features.

"It's fascinating," said Patricia Ackley, student publications adviser. "It is a gift this young man has. He has this ability to form things out of duct tape. It's so bizarre that in this time when everything is so serious, something so simple can bring so much hilarity to our newspaper. I didn't know it, but there are students who read the paper only for the duct tape pieces."

Joe's friend, senior Tyler Chuning, said, "As long as I've known him, he has made things out of duct tape. The funniest thing is the (red and white) suit with the spork in the headband."

For Joe, turning duct tape into everyday objects is just something to do.

"It's fun, and in the long run probably less expensive. Instead of going out and buying stuff, I make it out of duct tape. It's kind of a novelty, something to do when I'm bored. There aren't many people running around with stuff made out of duct tape."